Today is "Inspire Your Heart with Art" day, perfectly coinciding with our Thursday edition of "˜Feel Art Again.' To inspire your hearts, I've chosen a drawing, "An Enchanted Cellar with Animals," by the Dutch artist Cornelis Saftleven.
1. The Saftleven family was a family of artists. Cornelis' father and his two brothers were also painters. While Cornelis was, at one time, a pupil of his father, Herman Saftleven the elder, it is likely that Herman the younger, Cornelis' brother, was a pupil of Cornelis.
2. Enchanted animal scenes like "An Enchanted Cellar with Animals" were popular in the 1600s, which was lucky for Saftleven, as he excelled at painting animals.
3. Measuring 10 1/8 by 12 5/8 inches, "An Enchanted Cellar with Animals" is one of Saftleven's largest and most elaborate animal fantasies. Look closely to spot the scattered cooking appliances, a typical Saftleven touch.
4. In the background of the drawing is a human observer, peering out from the curtained doorway. According to the Getty Museum, "the hidden human observer"¦ was a stock figure in Netherlandish satirical and moralizing imagery of the 1500s and 1600s."
5. A large collection of Cornelis Saftleven works survive to this day: about 200 oil paintings and 500 drawings. While he's known for his satires, allegories, and animals, his most significant contribution to Dutch art is considered to be his images of Hell. Despite his lasting collection and his contribution to Dutch art, there is very little factual information available about Saftleven.
A larger version is available here.
"˜Feel Art Again' appears every Tuesday and Thursday.